New Urania lumber mill discussed at AgCenter forestry event

Bruce Schultz  |  3/2/2018 7:48:06 PM

(03/02/18) SHREVEPORT, La. — The director of the Louisiana Forestry Association said a new lumber mill near Urania in LaSalle Parish will require 1 million tons of timber.

“It will be in operation by the end of the year,” said Buck Vandersteen, speaking recently (March 1) at the Ark-La-Tex Forestry Forum organized by the LSU AgCenter.

The LaSalle Lumber Company is expected to have more than 100 employees on the payroll when it reaches full capacity.

Vandersteen said more companies are looking at Louisiana for its wood. “We are the wood basket of the South.”

He said he has met with another group interested in another mill development. “I believe we will see another mill in north Louisiana soon.”

It’s possible a plant will be built in southeast Louisiana to manufacture cross-laminated beams, he said.

Vandersteen said the wood pellet business is growing in Louisiana. The British company Drax Biomass is buying Louisiana wood to make pellets to fuel its power plants in England, he said.

Also at the meeting, the Ark-La-Tex Forestry Association recognized Ricky Kilpatrick, LSU AgCenter forestry agent in northwest Louisiana, who is retiring this year after more than 30 years on the job.

Richard Vlosky, director of the LSU AgCenter Forest Products Development Center, said a survey showed the losses timber producers suffered because of the recession from 2007 to 2008. “Everybody in the supply chain was negatively affected.”

He said 110,000 Southern jobs were lost. The housing market has yet to fully recover, he said, and higher interest rates will probably have an effect.

Half of the companies cut employees, while 17 percent of timber-related companies went out of business and 19 percent diversified.

Diversification included the pellet business, he said, and now 17 percent of Southern loggers have found work with the pellet interests.

Rick Williams, of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, explained how forest landowners can participate in the Environmental Quality Incentive Program for reforestation projects and the Conservation Stewardship Program for forestry enhancements.

He said both programs are usually considered for row crop farmers and cattle operations, but they are not restricted to those interests. “We’ve got a list of things for forestry.”

Glen Gentry, LSU AgCenter animal scientist, gave details on his work to control feral hogs.

He said research on the use of sodium nitrite is ongoing and being reviewed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Shooting wild pigs has limited effectiveness, and trapping is probably a better option, he said.

Ashley Long, LSU AgCenter wildlife specialist, said the U.S. Department of Agriculture has provided a helicopter to shoot wild pigs in the Red River Wildlife Management Area.

Eliminating pigs is not possible, Gentry said. “What we can do is learn to manage these pigs and get their numbers down to where they need to be.”

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Ricky Kilpatrick, LSU AgCenter forestry agent in northwest Louisiana, was honored with a plaque from the Ark-La-Tex Forestry Association for his upcoming retirement during the recent forestry forum in Shreveport. His wife, Cindy, is on the left. The plaque was presented by Deborah Slaughter, right, a member of the Ark-La-Tex Forestry Forum Planning Committee. Photo by Bruce Schultz/LSU AgCenter

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